Birth control pills: how effective are they at preventing pregnancy?

Most birth control pills come in a container for 21 or 28 days.

Birth control pills contain two forms of artificial hormones called estrogen and progestin. Both prevent a woman’s ovary from releasing an egg during her menstrual cycle (called ovulation). They do this by changing the levels of the natural hormones the body produces.

In addition, progestin causes the mucus around the cervix to become thick and sticky. This prevents sperm from entering the uterus, according to Medline Plus, the U.S. National Library of Medicine.


  • Easily reversal method of contraception if you expect to become pregnant.
  • Relief of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
  • Menstrual cramps of lower intensity (dysmenorrhea).
  • Improvement of acne.
  • Shorter, milder, and more predictable periods, or less or no menstruation.
  • Reduced heavy bleeding (menorrhagia) and related anemia.
  • Reduction of endometriosis symptoms.
  • Lower risk of ovarian, endometrial, and colorectal cancer.
  • Possible positive effect on bone mineral density.
  • Improvements in unwanted hair growth (hirsutism) caused by polycystic ovary syndrome.


  • Skipping pills or taking them late can reduce their effectiveness.
  • It does not offer protection against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
  • Increased risk of high cholesterol, heart attack, and stroke.
  • Increased risk of blood clots, especially for smokers and women over the age of 35,with a slightly higher risk of blood clots linked to pills containing higher doses of estrogen.
  • Increased risk of cervical and breast cancer for women taking combined birth control pills, but this risk seems to progressively decrease to normal levels once the pills are stopped.
  • Side effects, such as irregular bleeding, abdominal swelling, breast tenderness, nausea, depression, weight gain, and headaches.

Consequently, birth control pills only work well if the woman remembers to take them without overlooking a single day. That is, out of every 100 women who take the pill correctly for a year, only 2 or 3 become pregnant.

Along the same lines, it should be noted that Profamilia explained on its website that oral hormonal contraceptives are found in two presentations.

  • 21/7 tablets: the cycle begins with the intake of the first pill on the day menstruation begins. At the end of the cycle of 21 pills, the woman will have to rest for seven days. The cycle should be resumed to the eighth, regardless of menstrual bleeding.
  • 24/4 tablets: the first pill is taken on the day when menstruation begins. At the end of the 24 cycle, there are four placebo pills (no content) that must be taken to give continuity to the daily intake. Once the 28 tablets are finished, the next day you will start a new box of contraceptives, regardless of menstrual bleeding.

In the same way, keep in mind that it is false that any contraceptive works for any woman. For this reason, the choice must be personalized after considering multiple factors, according to Profamilia.Pregnant womanFatCamera © Pregnant woman

In addition, it is true that birth control pills can decrease libido or sexual desire. This only happens in some patients and is usually a transient process that is overcome without problems.

Also, it is false that prolonged use of the pill can cause infertility since once these are stopped fertility returns soon and its effect is only transient.

Finally, the entity revealed that it is false that rest periods are required when contraceptive pills have been used for long periods. The components of these pills do not accumulate in the body so when you stop taking them, the contraceptive effect is lost.

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